After writing about my experience with self-publishing a book yesterday, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s speedlink to the world of freelance writing and running your own small business.

In our ongoing efforts to become more productive, we’ve turned to all sorts of tools and strategies. Maybe you should have a better to-do list. Maybe you need a second monitor. James Altucher suggests that one of the best ways to get more done is to do nothing at all. Indeed, he describes five different scenarios where doing nothing is absolutely in your best interest and it will help you be more productive in the long run. For instance, you should do nothing when you’re angry.

When you’re first starting out, you’ll feel compelled to accept any work that you are offered. However, Sharon Hurley Hall asserts that this is not the best approach. You could end up doing a lot more research on a subject that doesn’t actually interest you. You could produce sub-par work due to this lack of expertise. Worse yet, you could end up with both. There will always be a debate as to whether you should be a specialist or a generalist. What do you think?

If you want to earn the respect of your peers, colleagues and clients, then you’ll want to present yourself with a certain sense of professionalism. Echoing a lesson that I learned many moons ago, Linda Formichelli reminds us that you should avoid unprofessional-looking e-mail addresses in your work. This is true for writers and editors, just as much as it is true for a regular resume. First impressions go a long way and sure looks better than

A common mistake that many beginning freelancers make is charging the same hourly rate that they were earning at their regular full-time job. As Meredith Lepore explains, there are many other factors to consider when setting your rate as a freelance graphic designer. Consider your current level of skill, for instance, as well as how demanding the client may be. You also have to pay close attention to non-billable hours, as well as the need to pay for your own taxes and overhead.

And finally, we head over to the other side of the pond to find Amy Harris celebrating May Day in the UK. Even though freelancers work “strange hours” and are the fastest growing sector of the European labour market, they lack the recognition they deserve. To this end, she is helping to spread the word about a petition calling for the governments of Europe to grant official status to freelancers, separate from “small and medium enterprises or other activity categories.”